This noble palm was named for Otto von Bismarck , who served as the first Chancellor of the German Empire from 1862-1890. The German explorer Johann Hildebrandt (1847-1881) discovered the palm in Madagascar; unfortunately, like many of the early plant explorers, he died while on the expedition, in his case of fever.
The large pleated silver-blue leaves of Bismarckia nobilismake this palm easy to recognize. Check out the exact color of the leaves before you buy one, as plants vary in hue with a green form also available. Only a female Bismarckia will bear seeds that can be planted to grow a new palm (and only if a male Bismarckia is near enough to pollinate it). Notice five Bismarckias on each side of the Lyons Road VR Guard Gate, where they have grown to an impressive size of about 20 feet tall. Some are females that bear fruit with seeds and some are males, I checked! Because the leafy crown is held so high, Bismarckias often survive the fires deliberately set to clear the land for agricultural use in their native Madagascar.
Additional VR palms including a female Bismarckia with fruit containing seeds and a male Bismarckia without fruit can be seen as a slideshow on my blog: botanicaltours.weebly.com
Where would I take guests who are visiting Palm Beach County this holiday season? Morikami is my top pick because it is easy to get to, has easy parking, and has so much to offer.
First, it is a beautiful and serene place to walk on easy gravel paths and enjoy nature, while seeing six representative Japanes-inspired gardens as they developed over the centuries. If you ask at the gift shop, you can obtain a small telephone-like device which will play information as you arrive at various points of interest.
Second, there is a nice display of bonsai. Third, there is a large Japanese villa where the history of the Japanese experience in Boca Raton can be learned. Fourth, there is currently (through 3/31/19) a wonderful exhibition of Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture. Fifth, the gift shop features lovely items from Japan. Sixth, the Cornell Cafe serves delicious Pan-Asian food from a terrace with a delightful view of the lake ( cafe open 11-3, so plan accordingly). Note that the cafe is only available to members or non-members who have paid the daily admission fee. Seventh, while this is NOT a botanical garden ( its mission is to be a center for Japanese arts and culture) and only the bonsai are labelled as to species, there are about 100 plant species in the gardens to entertain any botanists on board. A catalogue of the plants with photos of them can be found on the Morikami website. In addition, I have put together a slideshow of many of the current bloomers (photo of Thunbergia erecta above) ,and I have added the meanings of their scientific names. I would allow at least two hours to see everything at an easy pace, and more time if you plan to eat at the cafe. Please enjoy, and do check the Morikami website for hours ,prices and special events.
Pinus edulis (Pinyon Pine), native to CA's desert mountains; east to AZ, NM, TX; north to WY. Pinaceae. My new favorite pine tree! As the epithet "edulis" announces these trees yield edible pine seeds, which were eaten by Native Americans of the Southwestern U.S.A. and are still enjoyed today. Plus, Pinus edulis is the state tree of New Mexico!
Quercus buckleyi (Texas Red Oak), native to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Fagaceae. The trees in this Botanical Garden are young, as it only opened in 2013, and it is still a work in progress.
Agave neomexicana ( New Mexico Agave),native to Texas and New Mexico. Agavaceae.
Opuntia aurea ( Beavertail Prickly Pear), native to Southwestern United States. Cactaceae.
Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinquapin Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak), native to central and eastern U.S. Fagaceae. Edible, sweet acorns. Named for Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753–1815), a Lutheran pastor and amateur botanist in Pennsylvania. Muhlenberg did not spell his name with the "ue," but, due to an unfortunate error, the specific epithet of the tree meant to honor him misspells his name.
NEW MEXICO POST OFFICE - Raven. This is one of 23 sculptures created by artist Dan Ostermiller in a show called "Gardens Gone Wild," on exhibition through May 12, 2019. From bears to chickens, all of the bronze statues seem harmonious with the surrounding botanical garden.
I enjoyed presenting my first ever powerpoint to members of the ACE Program at the Mandel JCC in Boynton Beach,FL. Several people were interested in the waterproof fold-up palm guide that I had available. The title is "Common Palms of the Southeast & Texas" by Alan W. Meerow, illustrations by Robert O'Brien. Visit www.foldingguides.com if you'd like to purchase one! And someone asked me to state my favorite palm; well, here's a photo: Bismarckia nobilis!
The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is a magnificent space in which to enjoy trees, shrubs, roses and perennials. Enhanced through October 28, 2018 by outdoor sculptures. Check out the website for free guided tours on weekends. With over 12,000 labled plants you are sure to see many new and beautiful plants. Highly recommended with paved paths ideal for walking. morrisarboretum.org
Totally terrific gardens tended by a very dedicated staff. In addition to the flowers, shrubs, and trees the Persian -type architecture, the beautiful mosaics, and the view of the Hudson all add to the enchantment. Free and open seven days a week! Easy free parking either in the parking lot or on the street. You'll want to spend at least an hour and half there. I did go on a Sunday docent-led tour; a $10.00 donation per person for tours helps support the garden! I really enjoyed learning about the history of the garden with this knowledgeable guide. Sometimes the tours are more geared towards horticulture, which would be interesting, also. Always check online for the most current days, hours, tours, and special events at Untermyer Park and Gardens.
Afterwards, I walked to a nearby Italian restaurant called Gianna's with excellent food ( brick-oven pizza and much more), a nice ambience, and reasonable prices ( although there was easy and free parking right at the restaurant, so I wish I had driven there!)
Magnificent Sculpture at the Donald M.Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo World Headquarters
700 Anderson Road in Purchase ,NY. Open to the public and free on weekends 10-4 through 10/31/18. Both the plantings and the sculptures are breathtaking. It takes about 1.5 -2 hours to see everything. Picnic tables, free parking, what are you waiting for? Check the website: http://www.pepsico.com/sculpture-gardens. And if you want to make a day of it, the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of SUNY Purchase College, is right across the street https://www.neuberger.org/ ( and there is a Starbucks on campus!).
WOW for the sculpture and WOW for the landscaping! Definitely recommend visiting ( allow two hours).
The sabal palm is native to FL and is the state “tree” of both FL and SC, despite the fact that palms are NOT trees (they are flowering plants)! Notice the persistent old leaf bases along the trunks, called boots because soldiers used them to hang their boots to dry. Due to genetic differences, some sabals lose their boots at a younger age than others. A noticeably rounded canopy of leaves, about 10 feet x 10 feet, is another useful identification feature.
The Seminoles taught the settlers to eat the heart of the sabal , hence the common name of cabbage palm; however, after the heart is taken from inside the trunk near where the leaves emerge, the palm will die, so this is not a sustainable source of food!
Over 100 Sabal palmetto grow in Valencia Reserve in Boynton Beach; see how many different species of plants you can find growing in the boots: orchids, air plants, ferns, and even poison ivy all seem happy in the nooks and crannies.
Additional VR palms can be seen as a slideshow- click "slideshow" in the upper right hand corner of this blog!
Katherine Wagner-Reiss has her botany Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden, where she is a volunteer tour guide.